Saturday, July 14, 2012

Love Rock Revolution: K Records and the Rise of Independent Music

A couple days ago I went to go hear Mark Baumgarten talk about his new book, Love Rock Revolution: K Records and the Rise of Independent Music. The book tells the story of Olympia's K Records, a record label that during the 1990s released records by some of the most influential bands of that time, such as Beck, Modest Mouse, Beat Happening, Built to Spill, and the Gossip. Besides putting out a slew of great records, K Records was a big part of the Pacific Northwest music scene that produced some of the most influential music of that time.

The book focuses mainly on the founder of K Records, Calvin Johnson, though it also touches on the other players in the story of K Records. At the reading, Baumgarten read from a section of the book about Johnson's childhood. Johnson's love and interest in music, specifically punk, started when he was just in high school when he went on a school trip to Europe so he could buy the European punk music he couldn't find at home. Back in the U.S. he became involved in the growing Pacific Northwest music scene while still in high school by working for radio stations. He soon started K Records with the motto of "exploding the teenage underground into passionate revolt against the corporate ogre since 1982".

What makes Baumgarten's book unique amongst the sea of rock music journalism is how he tells the story. Much rock journalism can only really be appreciated and understood by rock geeks because of the depth of knowledge required to understand and enjoy the text. Baumgarten wrote the book with the idea that it should be a story that even his father, who was not interested in nor knew much about music, would be able to comprehend and be interested in. 

I have yet to finish the text, but have enjoyed it very much so far and would definitely recommend checking it out, specifically if you are interested in the Pacific Northwest music scene.  

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